Monday, July 30, 2012

Cheering for the Underdog

I hate predictable endings—can’t stand them. If I’m watching a movie or reading a book that feels predictable, I’m likely to find an excuse to not to finish. The book might be great; the movie might be an award winner. I don’t care. If it’s predictable, I don’t like it. That also applies to heroes. If the hero was already great, and success was expected, I’m not enthralled. It doesn’t mean I don’t like them, it just means I’ll be less impressed when they win.
On the other hand, I’m a sucker for underdogs. Show me an unheralded protagonist with everything against them and I’m likely to be interested. Give me a hero who was never meant to be and I’ll cheer for them every day. There’s a part of me that’s drawn to underdogs. I can’t get enough.
This is one reason why I love watching the Olympics. Anything can happen; anyone can be a winner; heroes rise from obscurity. There are champions and titans, winners and heroes. I’ll be cheering for every event, but chances are I’ll cheer loudest for the underdogs.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blue Jays, Canoes, and a Squirrel

I spent the last couple days camping deep in the middle of bear country. It’s always refreshing to get away, especially when away means no cell phone service. I was able to leave the world we live in and escape into a place where the loudest sound was river water over stones and the brightest lights at night were the stars.

This trip also provided great writing research in a few ways. First, I went canoeing. The last time I rode in a canoe was during the great river adventure that inspired me to write—over twenty years ago. I was on a lake this time, so the feeling was different than the rushing chaos of a river run, but I loved how the memories came flooding back. I was surprised at how cold the water was. I had forgotten. Thinking back to that great adventure, it’s more incredible to me that everything turned out okay then. There are pieces from that adventure that have made it into my series. Watch for some great river adventures in book three!

Second, I came face to face with a beautiful doe near our camp. She was huge, standing as tall as me. We stared at each other and then she strolled into the trees, having determined that I wasn’t a threat. Her face was so calm, so accepting of my presence. It’s rare to have a moment like that in the wild, so I’ll always remember it. There’s a scene in FROM RISING FLAMES with a doe. I may tweak it a bit based on this experience.

I love the tranquility of the night forest. I wandered through the tree, sans flashlight, listening and observing everything. Every shadow, every whisper of wind, and every rustle in the bushes was enlightening. High above, the stars glowed bright and clear, touching the treetops with their truth of how large the universe is. In the middle of the night, a raccoon found our garbage bag. After a couple tries, it tore a hole in the bag, spilling a few paper plates and aluminum cans to the ground. It played with one can in the dirt for a while and then scuttled down the riverbank.

Thankfully, no bears found our camp, but there were plenty of squirrels and Blue Jays to keep us company. Magnificent streaks of blue glided silently from tree to tree while angry little squirrels screamed their annoyance at our disruption to their day. One big fat, furry squirrel decided that the crumbs from our spilt garbage bag (raccoon’s evil doing) were a tasty snack. He slinked and crawled close to me before quickly discovering that I’m a sneaky trapper as well. J Had he not been the world’s biggest squirrel, he wouldn’t have escaped, though!

So that’s my travelogue and a glimpse into the wondering impulses inside of me. I love the outdoors and enjoy incorporating my little adventures into fantasy books. Enjoy your week and happy reading.

~ Jamie

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why Faeries?

I first posted this last year, but though it was good enough to share again. Enjoy. ~ Jamie

The words of Wilson Rawls captivated me when I was a child, especially one brief passage about a fairy ring.
A few years ago, I found a fairy ring; perhaps it found me.
Only days after moving into our current home, I saw something on the front lawn. Tiny mushrooms forming a circle. I didn’t jump up and down and exclaim that I had solved the meaning of the universe, but I was fascinated. A Fairy Ring. Immediately, the words I had read years earlier repeated inside of me. I took a photo with my phone and captured the memory of the moment. Then I looked around, discreetly stepped inside the circle, and made a wish.

A year later, while plotting my first novel, I discovered that some of the characters were flat. In fact, I hated them. If the author doesn’t like what is written, then certainly the reader never would. I tried changing their descriptions, their names, even imagining different voices to make them unique. Still, they were boring. Then I remembered my little fairy ring. Perfect.

I studied fairies—their history, the myths, and writings about them. I quickly realized that my own mental images differed completely from everything I found. There was nothing close and that wasn’t a bad thing. I wanted my creation to be unique.

So, I’ve kept the FAERIES, using the old world name to more accurately match the characters involved. Characters that I love. With a different edge and a remake of history, I’m trying to share their stories in a way that takes the reader to a place they’ve never been.

What about you? Is there something in nature that inspires your creativity? What are your thoughts of Faeries?

Friday, July 6, 2012

From Rising Flames, Page One

According to Blogger, this is my 100th post. It's amazing how time flies. It seems as if yesterday I announced to the world that I was writing. Now, ON FALLEN WINGS is out and its sequel is en route to a late summer/early fall release. To mark the occasion, I've decided to reveal the first (unofficial) page of FROM RISING FLAMES.

Before that, I want to express what a fabulous journey this writing venture has become. It's awakened parts of me that I thought had died long ago. I've met new friends and learned how small the world can be. There are so many talented people out there, all working hard to share their stories with others. Discovering those voices has been exhilarating. I'm proud to associate and interact with everyone. I know that I'm hit and miss in my social networking, and that I rarely comment on other blogs, but it's not for any reason other than I've been working hard on this series and spending as much time as possible with my family. I promise, if I'm following your blog, I'm reading your posts.

Writing has made me a better person, I believe, and it's brought out all the emotions that normal people try to keep hidden. I've cherished the emotional roller coaster, using the moments to capture feelings in my words. Many people who have given feedback on my writing have called it "lyrical." I like to think that my heart is singing onto the pages I write. I get into the characters, I dive into the story. When you read my words and feel something stir inside of you, know that I felt that same emotion a hundred times while creating the scene. Life is about creating memories that last. I hope my stories will last. ~ Jamie


The Man in the Meadow

Maeia sensed trouble was coming. Restless during the past few weeks, she kept staring east, toward Taylor’s Ridge, as if tragedy loomed on the mountain. She was wrong; she had to be. Storms came from the west, and the worst season of my life had already passed. Summer life in Aisling had become ordinary and pleasant; filled with so much work that no discontent could find space between the sun and the moon.

“It’s all right, Maeia,” I said, patting the nose of my gentle mare. “There’s nothing out there.”

Maeia insisted on her mischief, pawing at the dirt, revealing the same hole I had covered over many times, and snorting at the mountain. Her white coat was frazzled and mangy, caked in dried mud and thorns that hurt when I removed them with my fingers. I wished I knew what bothered her, but there were some things even I didn’t understand about horses.

Offering the only support I could, I chose a small violet flower from the grass and weaved its stem into Maeia’s mane. “If you promise to behave,” I whispered. “I’ll let you keep this.”

She didn’t answer, and chose to snort at me before galloping away, leaving me in a cloud of dust.

Muttering a frustrated curse, I wiped the dirt from my face with the bottom of my dress and returned to the stable. There, an unfamiliar scent in the warm breeze caught my attention. Something was wrong. I turned around, unsure of what to expect, and searched the meadow. Far in the distance, a man ran toward me. I couldn’t see his face, but I didn’t need to; his blue shirt gave him away. Darian.